April 2012
More details
  • Publisher
    UCL IOE Press
  • Published
    23rd April 2012
  • ISBN 9780854739219
  • Language English
  • Pages 26 pp.
  • Size 8.5" x 5.75"
  • Images 15 illus

Mathematics is often portrayed as an "abstract" cerebral subject, beyond the reach of many. In response, research with digital technology has led to innovative design in which mathematics can be experienced much like everyday phenomena. This lecture examines how careful design can "phenomenalize" mathematics and support not only engagement but also focus on key ideas. It argues that mathematical knowledge gained in this way prioritizes the powerful reasons for doing mathematics, imbuing it with a sort of utility and offering learners hooks on which they can gradually develop fluency and connected understanding.

Dave Pratt illustrates this lecture with examples taken from conventional topics such as number, algebra, geometry and statistics and from novel situations where mathematical methods are juxtaposed with social values. The suggestion that prioritizing utility supports a more natural way of learning mathematics emerges directly from constructionist pedagogy and inferentialist philosophy.

Two Meanings of Phenomenal
What is Mathematical Abstraction?
The Micro-Evolution of Mathematical Knowledge
Illustrative Scenarios
* Scenario 1: Using Newton’s Laws Before “Knowing” Them
* Scenario 2: The Utility of Graphing and Algebraic Notation
* Scenario 3: Purposeful Geometric Construction
* Scenario 4: Controlling and Representing the Behaviour of a Die
* Scenario 5: Expressing Mathematics in Socially Complex Situations
Abstraction and the Power to Engage

Dave Pratt

Dave Pratt is Professor of Mathematics Education, Institute of Education, University of London, UK.